Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art recently unveiled its first project of 2021, adding to the extensive public arts collection across the city.
Following a record high of nine public art murals introduced by HAPA in 2020, plans are in the works for a number of additional projects this year.
Titled “Courage,” the newest design highlights people, industries and organizations whose service and leadership have greatly contributed to the advancement and growth of community and country. The piece is dedicated in honor of the many acts of courage exhibited throughout Hattiesburg’s history.
“As Hattiesburg continues to emerge as the artistic hub of the Gulf South, public art celebrating the diversity, creativity and foundations of our community is vital,” Marlo Dorsey, executive director of Visit Hattiesburg, said. “This mural provides a creative outlet for residents and guests to enjoy while also recognizing the incredible contributions made by those who came before us.”
Located adjacent to Veterans Memorial Park at the gateway into downtown Hattiesburg, the mural is the work of Pine Belt artist River Prince. Measuring 18-foot tall by 115-foot wide, the design features the seals of all five United States military branches and is now the largest mural in Hattiesburg.
"Veterans Memorial Park is a sacred space which remembers the courage of all who have served in defense of our nation, particularly the 173 individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice,” Mayor Toby Barker said. “‘Courage’ is a fitting artistic addition to the park as it honors the people and institutions that gave our community its strength and character. I appreciate River Prince, The Church at 4 Points, the Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art and the Hattiesburg Veterans Committee for their collaboration on this mural.”
To further grow Hattiesburg’s artistic landscape, HAPA has partnered with businesses and artists throughout the Hub City to add creative, lively pieces to Hattiesburg’s alleyways and corridors. “Courage” is a collaboration between HAPA and The Church at 4 Points.
“The desire of ours since purchasing The Farrior Building has been to see that space utilized as a positive addition to the landscape of downtown Hattiesburg,” Chad Davis, church pastor, said. “The opportunity to partner in honoring the courage of the city’s residents — both past and present — is something we are thrilled to be a part of. The prominent piece featuring a true American hero, Jesse L. Brown, is something that we hope will honor him along with other veterans from the Hub City as a constant reminder overlooking Veterans Park.”
Brown, who was born in Hattiesburg in 1926, was a U.S. Navy officer and the first African American aviator to complete the Navy’s basic flight training program.
He was a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross and was the first Black naval officer killed in the Korean War in 1950.
His successes in the segregated and desegregated military have been memorialized in several books, and a frigate, the USS Jesse L. Brown, was named in his honor.
This latest piece joins more than 40 permanent sculptures and murals included in Hattiesburg’s public arts collection.
“We are extremely excited to be a part of this mural project that brings something special to an important park in downtown Hattiesburg,” Prince said. “It’s our hope that this piece attracts people to the area for a glimpse of what makes Hattiesburg special while instilling pride in residents.”
For a map of Hub City public art, visit hattiesburgpublicart.com.